Thursday, December 17, 2009

BLACK OUT AND THE BUTTERED SCONES OF OLDE ENGLAND


I have just finished reading John Lawton's Black Out earlier this morning, and I am still humming with the delightful thought that there are on my shelves three more Troy books to be read.

It is February 1944, and as the country waits for the opening of the Second Front a ragged stump of a human arm is found by boys playing on a bomb site in Stepney. When Polish pathologist Kolankiewicz identifies the body as that of a German, from a cufflink with a Munich hallmark, and informs Frederick Troy about another German found the previous year on Tower beach, with a bullet hole in his cheek, Troy realises he is on the trail of a serial killer. But a very unusual serial killer with some powerful connections.

'Forty-five automatic? There's a Colt forty-five automatic that's a standard issue American-forces weapon.'
'Yes-but the black market these days. I know a pub in Mill Hill where you could buy a Howitzer over the counter.' Kolanciewicz gestured at the cafe window. 'Most of your colonial cousins would sell you any thing from a pair of nylons to a half- track. You need a second-hand Flying Fortress? Try the Railwayman's Arms in Mill Hill.
And the money they get they spend monopolising the buttered scones of Olde England!'

If you thought you had read everything on the theme of the serial killer this superb police procedural gives it a new twist, and keeps you guessing the outcome until the very end.
On top of the excellent plot with a few surprises John Lawton gives the reader an evocation of wartime London second to none, and a group of unforgettable characters. The clever reliable Constable Jack Wildeve, Kolanciewicz the mad Polish pathologist, the solid Superintendent Stanley Onions, Troy's eccentric scientist uncle Nikolai, the tall elegant Lady Diana Brack, and the short bubbly blonde American WAC Tosca all feature in a wonderful ensemble cast along with the hero Frederick Troy.

Troy is the younger son of a millionaire Russian emigre newspaper owner, who has become a dedicated policeman abandoning the vacuous lifestyle of many of his class to be an ordinary 'copper'.
His family connections gained him a special dispensation from the Met's height restriction, but his shortness never hampers his 'success' with women, and I wondered if this was one reason why I liked the Troy series so much.

Black Out is a wonderful read with an original plot, evocative atmosphere, and great characters it represents crime fiction at its very best. And it is quite fun as well.

'Gorgeous,' he said, inhaling from the jar. 'Pity we've nothing to eat with it.'
'We have,' she said out of sight.
'Such as?'
'Such as.......me!'
He turned. She had taken of her blouse and was unhooking her brassiere, unleashing a bosom of such magnificence as to stagger the beholder.
She grasped the jar and upended it over her torso.
'OK, baby. I'm yours. Sauce me!'

3 Comments:

Blogger Dorte H said...

This one sounds terrific. What a pity the scones are not part of the title (so I can´t use it for my What´s in a name challenge). I think I will have to put it on my list, though.

Like you, I also love knowing that I have a few novels by great writers ready on my TBR.

9:07 AM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Dorte, you don't have to have read the first two in the series to enjoy this one, but Second Violin and Riptide are also very good.
The pathologist Kolanciewicz is a great character always warning Troy that he will end up as one of his patients if he is not careful. But I loved that line about scones.

10:30 AM  
Blogger Philip said...

You have three Lawtons still to read, Norman? I am seriously envious thereof. They come neither thick nor fast, and I'm thinking about suing the blighter for something or other if he doesn't write another one.

3:52 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home